弓道 As the arrow flies


As the arrow flys…

I had heard people say that Kyudo is difficult. When you see learn the first 8 steps, it is doubtful you really understand the complexity of doing those first steps and sending and arrow into the target. When you first become aware of the shakuhachi and there is only 5 holes to learn, basicity 2 octaves and breathing right, one could think 8 things. Simple. You could also even compare the sound of the note, as the target and the breath the arrow…

it is doubtful you really understand the complexity of doing those first steps and sending and arrow into the target”
My quest to consistently get that note continues. Of course I am that stubborn kind of guy.
It is understood in the music world the extreme difficulty of play a shakuhachi. Some take a month(s) just to make a sound. I hear a lot of comparisons between Kyudo and Shakuhachi in my Shakuhachi sensei’s talks. He is not doing the comparisons, it is happening on my head from listening to him talk. The other day for example he was talking about technique and spirit. One can have good spirit and be a technically poor player, and the other way around. To be a “player”, master, you need both, you must have both. Once you have technique, then your spirit must excel forward, beyond the technique. Something like that. Anyway I am hearing the Kyhon ( kyudo bible) in my head. 
Since starting the Shakuhachi I have at times wondered which is more difficult…
Both can be considered a spiritual journey, beyond the flight of the air-row…
I have decided it is Kyudo that is more difficult! One can throw off an off note, as style, expression. However the flight of the arrow only tells the truth. The smallest detail un-balanced, off tone, makes a big difference the flight of the arrow. Hits… truth or not.
I have been picking away at my Kyudo, like a scab on a sore. With sort of the same results and sensations on the path to a bloody tender mess, when done too early. Yeah, anyway still training. I was starting feel like I was making some progress. I still had a way to go, but even I felt like I was making progress. A couple of the Sensei had even given their approval on some of my shots and I was hitting more often in pairs. Still a way to go but there was hope, in my mind. A seed…
Next month is a Shinsa at my dojo. All other Shinsas this year have been and will continue again after this up-coming one, at a dojo I dislike because entry and exit are done opposite. As this Shinsa is on my home turf, I started getting the lets give it a shot thoughts, hope, dreams…
Recently I go to the time spot when the main Sensei teaches. I had been given some changes, pointers over the last couple of days/week, even by him. So I felt reasonable good going to practice. I also needed him to check over my paperwork for the Shinsa. 
The paperwork was mostly ok, a small change was needed. He also said something about a section, that I did not understand. I said I will have my wife call him. So I practiced…
As expected I got corrections, a good thing always. Even more so by someone in the upper levels. Parts of the adjustments were on the same issue, the tenouchi. One of my demons. Ok, I made mental notes and practiced. I could not put in long hours that day, as I was expected elsewhere. I decided pretty much by the end of the day, the up coming shinsa was not a good idea for me now. Still more training was needed. I figured I would see how I did in the up coming Tai Kai, to make the final decision, dependant on how the arrow flew. 
I found out later that the section on the form, Watase Sensei was referring to was about workshops , seminars. Sensei had said I had not attended any since the states. I should have some time with them on the form. I did not even think I was suppose/needed to attend those if I was getting plenty of help in the Dojo, it was a personal choice option only. I am still not sure if I NEED/MUST attend. I will anyway at least one. I figured it would be too difficult following group instructions in Japanese. Well I will found out. In Oct that is when the next section is held.
Ok on to the TaiKai. It was a hot hot day. There was a typhoon on the way arriving the next day. It was humid! There were four other dojos in attendance.  
My job for this day was the photographer. I brought my serious camera along for the day. I love my long lens! I also had some great light in a spot for a while. Even though hot hot hot, I got some pretty good shots. My shooting the bow was not as good as shooting my camera…
Sensei was watching me like a hawk when I shot. I could feel his eyes! After the second round he comes over and tells me how way off I am on things. I had only one hit by then after 8 shots. After lunch I have one more round, I get two out of four. It was settled for me after the first round I was not ready yet for Shinsa.
After everything was cleaned up there was still some practice time available. I took advantage of it. Yamasta sensei was still there helping. He gave me some instruction as did my other Sensei. Then just he helped me after Watase Sensei left. Some of it was things I had heard before but part of it was new. I was told I was overdrawing A LOT!!! Ehhhhhh! This was a shock as I always hear I was not drawing big enough, so I thought. He explained more, where I should stop drawing, with my elbow not my hand, and just expand and drop shoulders and body into the Yumi. Once I understood what was being said, it made a difference in being able to relax in Kai. The Kaicho had always said I was too tight. I thought how can I draw full maximum and still stay relaxed!? Now I get it there is a point you draw to, which is not the full maxed out size of the Yumi. 
Part of the problem with my training is not being fully in control of my language skills. If I was fluent enough to understand the full details of these lessons I have been told, instead of just a small section, my progress would be a lot faster…I think so anyway. My slow progress is not so much a lack of technical skill coordination, but a lack of understanding how to use that skill, how it functions. 
Yamashita Sensei said, I think you will be ready for YonDan Shinsa soon. I said hmmm, next year I think. He said nothing else really, more of a sound, Ummm ne, kind of thing.
Anyway, onward, keiko keiko keiko…Winter is coming.

Two forward, one back

Steps, forward and backward

We at Kishiwada Kyudojo had a Rei Kai the other day. I finally got the name right. Rei Kai not Day or Dae Kai, but Rei Kai. That is an improvement. The days or a couple of days before that I thought I was making good improvements with my Kyudo shooting. My hits ratio were improving. I had figured out what was needed, so I thought. I thought I would do ok at the Rei Kai, and I sort of did. I got one hit out of four every time I went up. I have hit 4/4 before a couple of times in the past and also 2/4. However that is in the past. That was Zen this is now. These days I have been sucky.
After my first round of shots, my head sensei comes over and asked, basically what the hell was that with the way I was hikiwaki as did another Sensei. I thought I had it figured out…wrong! The other Sensei told me what I was doing wrong. I was way off in my thinking. So I went back to the old way on the next round and was told that was better. Then the head Sensei told me my bringing the Yumi down and back to my hip sucks. Not in those words but it meant the same. So he showed me how to do it. i had been told before I was doing it wrong, I had too much curve in the travel but no one explained how I should do it. So the last few classes I have been doing it the new way and no one has complained…so far.
Ok, so Tues are Tai Hai days, so far I have been getting very little correction with that. The other day, I was corrected on my Rei which was too low, and my timing on entry steps. Other wise I seem to be ok with my Resha use. I feel pretty comfortable with that, no matter where my placement is in the Tachi grouping. We get random picks on in line placement, by having our arrows selected like drawing straws, but drawing Ya.
The other day another of my Sempai Sensei comes over to help me. He has done so in the past and although he does not speak English I get it he recently helped with my Tenochi and I finally got it, I can feel the difference. I got another adjustment the other day. He also watched my Hikiwaki and I think I got it. I was having issues with my right elbow placement. I had figured out if I push my elbow forward in Kai, my ya would travel straight and my arm would travel across the top when unfolding and not change my ya travel angle. However this was completely wrong. I was told my elbow should be back and in line with my back and not facing down as much as I was doing, my arm on release should travel not over the top but sideways…ehhhhh, ohhhh souka. Fist distance in between my hand and shoulder. In Zanshin my right thumb should point to the rear, my left thumb should point to the front. I have been watching the Kaicho, his does not do that in Zanshin. This sensei told me it is not correct, it should. Ok So I started trying this, my hits when down at first while I was working it, but after a few shots and sighting adjustments, it started to make sense.
These details are a bitch, but they make the difference. I keep working on them. I am of the mind set, by the time I pass Yon-dan I will be ready for Go-dan. I have found out there is one Shinsa at my dojo this year, I will attend in Sept…maybe if I can make some solid advancement by the registration date in Aug. if not then I will wait until next year. There are other chances, however, the dojo where the shinsas are most of this year, I do not like. The setup means one has to enter on the right foot and exit on the left. I have enough to deal with without having to switchup my foot work. I have done it, I took my San Dan under those conditions, but really dislike it.
At the Rei Kai the other day, I had to do really stuff in the event. I was told I would do something, but I had no idea what they were talking about. Part of it was being a score keeper. That was easy now that I have done it already at the last Tai Hai. It is just flicking switches. The other thing was taking the Ya from whoever turned it during the final shoot off, showing it to the judges and then to the shooters who were lined up waiting. I was walked through it by another of the Sensei, so was not so bad. The actual function was not so bad to remember but the word to use to the judges I do not remember. I think it was something to do with being the second group. Anyway, if I have to do it again I am sure I will get help.
So yeah, slowly I am making headway a couple of steps forward, and step back. Usually when I start thinking I got it, I don’t, but that is ok. A Zen master said once mistakes are opportunities to learn. 
So onward, little by little. Like the turtle, not how fast to reach the finish but reaching it is the goal. We were told in my old Chan class about turtle breathing. Slow and steady, this helps give them long life. A dog breathes fast and has a short life, turtle breath slow and have long life. So I think of my Kyudo training as turtle breathing, slow, and deep.

World Naked gardening day


It is said that working in dirt, feeling it, helps cure depression. I can see how that would happen. There is a certain feeling that comes from working with clay, doing ceramics, bring something to life from dirt. Gardening is bring something to life from dirt. I call it the God complex, they have I am sure other names. Anywho, yeah, doing gardening is therapeutic, very Zen active mediation kind of thing, Kyudo, Tai Chi, shakuhachi, kind of Meditation. Other faces of Chan. I heard one of my Chan Shifu recently say that, along with every day life is Chan, Chan is everyday life.
So my Chan gardening meditation project, spring session has started. I thought it would be a one day project but it has turned into three. It is a good golden week project. I will be working with reduced hours for a while, so on another level it is good to be planting food. Helps to eat fresh, save money, eat healthy. I do not have enough space to really be serious about growing. However herbs, tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant, teas, can be grown easy and enough to be worth the effort as harvested.
It took me travels to three places for soil, food, misc. It was a large undertaking.
I am putting more effort into the garden this year. Last year was weak, very weak. The first year was better. This year I am adding more organic fertilizer, but of a different type. We’ll see if that makes a difference. I am also setting up a computer sheet, showing what was planted where, and what date. I will not rely on guessing what was growing. I tried labels, but they come off, get wet, something. This is a better idea…so far.
This time I have a chart with pictures as well. This way I can recall the seed. Don’t know if I can find these again, i got them from a place in northern Ca called the seed bank. It is an old bank changed to a retail seed store. I have my oldest in contact still friend living in the same town, so there is a chance of a repurchase. God be willing and the creek don’t rise.
I finished up the planting yesterday. It was a three day task. The downer of two of those day was my trip to the dentist. First time in many years. I need work. 😦 Three shots on day one! My mouth was a wreak trying to take a Shakuhachi class afterward. I also ended up chew my cheek flesh a bit, when eating and not being able to feel. It made the evening not too pleasant.
On the third day a cold struck ! Maybe from the dentist…the chill change in the weather, stress from being in the chair, holding on for dear life. Actually, I started thinking about Kyudo, if I can remain relaxed while this guy is digging in my mouth, I can easy stay relaxed when at Shinsa. Although, being relaxed at shinsa is not my issue, hitting is….I digress
So yeah the third day. I heard that May 2nd is World Naked Gardening day. I thought, wow, perfect timing. As I am finishing up today. So I joined in the celebration. I took a couple of photos, because you know the saying, if there is no pictures, it never happened.
So the first picture, I could not find my tripod, so I took it while holding the camera.
I was called away afterward so I could not get back to working until after the dentist, and my shakuhachi class via skype from Chicago. That is kind of different iznnit! Lesson from Chicago on a Japanese instrument, while I am in Japan. I am learning one certain song that is why. I need this in order to get the Komuso experience …coming soon. Oops , digression, the picture, yeah, so I got back out to finish up, I found my trip so I was able to get a full shot, it was a little dark though. Oh, well…

I am looking for a good harvest this year. I have some ideas in place that I have been thinking on from the last couple of plantings. The practice is evolving.

God willing and the Creek don’t rise

God willing and the creek don’t rise.

There was a Tai Kai for a couple of Sundays ago. I was set to go, at least in my head. I was not shooting that well but, I was viewing it as practice, so it matter. Everything is practice, maybe even life, who knows for sure. However that is another story…
The night before for some reason. I did not sleep well. Maybe nerves from not being really ready to shoot badly in public. Yeah, my hit ratio still sucks, oh well. Anyway I was up early to get going. I did my morning drills, Chan-ding ( zazen), Tai Chi and then set off. I was even wearing my dogi, so as not to waste time changing and dealing with looking for a spot to stand in the crowded dressing room at Kishiwada. 
I hope on the train making the effort to catch one that I did not have to rush to make. I am riding along I switch to an express to the main station instead of the local one where I usually get off. The next main one is also a regular stop when I am wanting to walk less. I figure I would save some time and be there in plenty of time. I am hearing things on the speaker about the next stop, which sounds like is not my stop but the next next big station. I am thinking, hmmm I must not be hearing right, because the train always stops at Haruki. Surprised I am when it goes pass my stop! Ehhhhhh? Hmmm. Ok, I think no panic Good thing I am early. At the next stop I get off and change to a local going the opposite direction. 
I make it to my stop with plenty of time to burn, sort of. I stop in the convenience store for a drink and walk over to the dojo. I was not early enough to see the folks lined up outside waiting to get in. The building was already open. Once upstairs, I get another shock! The dojo is empty! No one, no bows, zip! Ehhhh? My mind races, I check the board, hmmmm, ok, I see the two Tai Kai I signed up for are not today! Hmmmm, however my calendar says there is a Tai Kai today! It took me a while then figured out, I was on the right day, the right time, but the wrong place!! Doh! 
Oh well, i figured, I guess I will just practice alone. Nothing I can do about it now. Anyway, I guess I was not expected anyway, after some memory checks, i did not recall signing up for the Osakajo Tai Kai anyway. Oh well. I setup thing to practice. Just before I was ready to shoot another dojo mates enters. She tells me yes, there is a Tai Kai at The Osaka Castle Dojo. Sigh.

I have at my practice. Shortly later another mate shows up, so now there is three of us. I am at it, checking my this n that and not hitting anything! This was the theme for the day. Zip for hits, close and around the mato, but not one hit out of sixteen. After a couple of disgusting hours, I called it a day. A sempai says to me I need to open my chest more. I make a note of it, but still head out, I am done. I mark down my perfect Zero score and head home.
Oh well, there is next time, if God be willing and the creek don’t rise, I will be back.

吹禅 – Owari desu…yokatta

Whewww, glad that is done…
I was off, it was to be a full day with Kyudo, stuff, Guitar, and Shakuhachi in hand I head out…
It finally here the day I wanted to get over with.
It felt more like taking a test than doing a recital. I have a good grasp on most of the song, but not all the small parts. It was requested that I should memorize the song not read it. Hmmm, ok. I figured out why I am having trouble memorizing this song. Beside me getting old, so many things with just my playing , then to add memorizing …it is a lot for something that is new. 
Anyway, no matter. I had it down enough that only those who knew the song, would know I am not playing it “true”, There were other people there beside shakuhachi students. In fact mostly koto students and shamisen. This is what I was lead to believe…it was mostly right.
So, anyway, i wanted this over with that was part of it. It would be my first real playing live. I did play a section at my Ordination , but this was the whole song, in front of Japanese strangers, musicians. The “musicians” is the key in this case…peers.
Also there was the requests from my Sensei to play a couple of other songs with him. One of which I was to sing. I am not sure why I dislike doing that song. That part was not fun , but the other song playing with Sensei was harder, and I did not have the time to practice it. So my guitar work was expected to be poor..It was! Embarrassing to me, maybe they did not care or even notice. I did, Sensei , hmmm, not sure. My timing was there but some notes and cords, where funky (sour) to me.
The day started early for me, even though the event was not until 2:00 pm. It was a 90 min train ride about. However since I had a stop to make i left earlier than needed. I was stopping by the Kyudo shop. I wanted my ya fixed. It has been a small thing, but the coloring design has not been right since I got the new Ya. Since the shop was on my way to the recital house it was a perfect time to stop. Finally, I can get that behind me. It is a very small thing , but it irks me everything I use the Ya. I am still attached to the vision of how they are suppose to look. No one cares but me, but it is part of my small joy of if not shooting well, at least looking good whilst shooting bad. 🙂
That part of the trip went well. I hope the guy understood !? It will take a month for it to be done. I guess their shop stays pretty busy for custom work. Or something. It took a month for me to get the original set. Hmmm maybe he said a week?! Or well. Not a rush anyway. So just wait, mode engaged. I have my everyday Ya to use anyway and I am not going to shinsa next month. Speaking if which, I went into practice on Sat night expecting quiet and aloneness to practice with my new-to-me winter kimono. Wrong wrong wrong, ran into a a big practice session with several Senseis had to join. Anyway, alway good, to learn something.
Yeah, after the Kyudo shop, a quick stop at Subway for a sandwich. That is one of the few things I miss about the states is the mixture of foods I can get. I would love to find a falafel shop. Yummm. Anyway. i got my usual. Flat bread, avo, cheese, all the veggies, with basil sauce. It was good! Then onward to the recital. We were to have a meal afterward but that would not be until 4:30 , it started at 2:00.
I got on the train and headed to the house of the Koto Sensei where the event was to be held. It was almost to where we used to live when we first arrived and stayed with my Mother-in-law. I made it to the home with no problem, by following the map and a little common sense. My Sense had not arrived yet. There was a Sempai of mine their, I had met before. The rest were a bunch people I did not know. But it was ok, they were all pleasant and tried to be helpful to me, with my limited Japanese. Pretty soon , everyone was there , except for my Sensei. He was not late but it was close when he arrived.
Once he was there we started. He was the MC it turns out. So he did the speaking. He started off with a small talk introduction of the players for the day and then began with his first song. I was to be next. Great, following the master!! Another reason to be nervous! Just Great! Ok, my turn. I took my music chart just in case. I put it on the stand , but not right in front of me. Just to the side, I could look over if I needed, but for the most part I would have my eyes closed and just play from memory. If I mess up, I just mess up. I will keep going. One thing I learn from playing so long live, just keep going, the mistake does not really standout until the player makes it so. I would keep rolling, and sure enough I got a part or two mixed up. Only my Sensei and maybe his sempai who was there noticed. Afterward, sensei said I passed, I did well. Most people fail to get notes out. I was able to play through-out. I think I also got an approval from his sempai. Although he did not say so to me, they were talking about me. I would get pulled into parts of it. It seemed positive. So I guess I had Shakuhachi Shinsa of sorts.
The rest of the show was interesting, all traditional Japanese songs. Solo, duo, trio. Cool stuff. No young people in the event, all oldsters like me and older. Sensei told me there is a big event next week, where there are many players semi-pro and pro. I am guessing a mix of ages. Maybe I will go, for some inspiration or something.
I am to start a new Honkyoku song, called “Tamuke 手向.”. These are traditional “spiritual” shakuhachi songs. They seem fairly long and complex. Perhaps these are the ones sensei is picking out for me as a teaching path. He says we will be working on this next song of, which the name I do not recall, through the summer and into the fall…
Wow, long time for one song. It does not matter, I have no rush plans on what I learn or pressure to stop. I am just learning and will apply when ready. As for stopping, the universe will determine that. I will continue to play until I can not. Lessons may need to be adjusted due to conditions, but the playing does not stop. 
It just surprised from doing modern western songs. I never really studied classical music in-depth to compare. I will guess there is a mixture like in western music. There is a another honkyoku I am working on to play with the Nara Monk this spring, which I find short and fairly simple after what I have been learning. Which brings me to the thought Sensei is selecting complex works to use as a teaching tool, not so much for the music or to just learn another song. Like in Kung Fu the principal behind the technique is the important part. The soul essence. Understanding that, rather than the physical act at the applied moment is the pearl. Once you own it you can adapt it and needed.
It is kind of nice studying with this shakuhachi sensei he is somewhat of a rebel, besides the greatness of him speaking English. As a rebel he does not give ranks (dans) to his students. That is still a practice in many schools with. A traditional background. One gets a Dan and also pays more with each Dan for classes. I do not really need a Dan, I have no plans to teach.
So now onward. New song, new adventure, new area of learning…yosh!
.more pix and vid here

Hatsu-kai 2017


Spring first shooting. I enjoy this group this is my third, I believe attendance. It was cold ! I was thankful we have an inside Dojo. Even then it was still cold! 😦
Funny how some things work out for the best. If I had joined the nearby Dojo, I would have frozen “my grapes”. At the time I was heart broken, but now, so glad. There is a lesson there, trust the Universe! My mother would have said, all things work out for those who trust the Lord.
I have been putting my practice time in regularly, not much improvement I can see. Whatever, it no longer matter. I just do my thing, and work on whatever to improve my center of shooting. I will no longer concern myself with the next Shinsa. I will be ready when I am ready. After all, it affects no one but me, and will change nothing for my life. I spoke with a guy at the Silver center. He is a san-dan in Judo and Kendo. He said Yon-dan is a hardest one to pass there also. So I guess it is the same in all the Japanese Arts. They are hard on San-dan – Yon-San.
So anyway, my Tai-hai is getting better at least. I get none to little corrections on/at the weekly practice sessions. That is good. So when I am finally able to make some consistent hits, I will be ready for the Shinsa. The next one is coming up in March, however, looking at my current scores, I will pass on going again, no use wasting my money.
So yeah the Hatsu-kai. It was mostLy just our dojo, and there was another group of high schoolers I believe, who also attended. It was cold, but we made do.
I did not do well, as was expected. I got one hit out of 8 shoots. I was quite surprised when I got a prize for being in 40th something place. 🙂 I took a lot of pictures as usual. Along with some of my other classmates this time.
Anyway my placement did not matter, it was fun. I enjoy my dojo mates, that is really more important about these things. The sense of fellowship. That is the one thing I miss the most about being away from my Kung Fu family and Shifu. We had monthly Friday night closed door sessions with Shifu and sometimes and Uncle it really gave us a sense of fellowship, family. That beside the sharing of info, and training together bonded us.
This month was the anniversary of my Kung Fu Shifu passing. It is always sad to think of the lost of him, yet up-lifting to know how blessed I was to have the memories of that time. The same goes for the lost of Nagomi Sensei with Kyudo. I really had very little time with him , but in my mind and heart it was very meaningful. I would really really like to pass my Yon-dan Shinsa at my original school, I believe that would please him…but, in the big picture it matters not at all. I am sure his spirit would be pleased where-ever, whenever it happens, the important thing is to Ganbraru and not quit! Knocked down seven, stand eight!
If interested you can view my pictures from the HatsuKai here…click

Kuietly Kyudo Krusing

Wow, it has been over a month, since a post. 

Yeah, well, life happens and you just have to roll with it. Sorry my 4 readers. 

Speaking of which, I was surprised to found out I have more followers from Tumbler to here, than on WordPress to here. Strange, different type there no doubt, hmmm , what type are there, am I weird or normal weird, or un-weird to whom. 

No matter I digress….
Yeah, it has been a while since posted. A fair amount of stuff went on, but who is really interested…right. It will not change the election results. That is a real bummer with Trump as Pres. Thank God I am not living in the states! Still there will be repercussions. Even for us permanent resident card holders.
There are those who tune in for the Kyudo Tales, encounters with joy and sorrow. That is when I get the most hits. Hmmmm maybe from the G+ link. Oh well, whatever…just tripping.
So yeah Kyudo…
Even though there has not been much verbiage, it is still on, like donkey kong.
I went back to the States in Oct.. I do not believe have said that, or posted. Yeah, it was a surprise to me also, getting to go again so soon. It was short, a mostly directly to deal with my Mum’s left over affairs trip. I did get to quietly see a few people. One of which was my Kyudo Federation Sensei in Ca. I went to a class. We chatted some and I was given the once over on my kyudo development. Over all I got a clean bill of health and a couple of tips. It was all inside Makiwara dojo stuff, but my Resha tai hai was good. So it was something positive. 
That was the extent of my Kyudo for that trip.
Meanwhile back home in Osaka, a Tai Kai was coming shortly after my return. I had a few weeks of practice time before. Not really that I expected to do good, it was a just simply, practice, sometime I needed.
The Tuesday full kimono training session are interesting. After each round of shooters those that watch, critiqued , then switched. We blind pick Ya, from a bundle to choose, who goes where in the line up for shooting.
All done very seriously, and taken so, with a open heart within the spirit of training, but still fun.
I usually do not get a lot of chances at shooting at these things, it is mostly TaiHai stuff and other Sharies. I shoot a little for me, afterwards. I had not taken any notice of any improvement, so had not been thinking about it, too much, next Shinsha is March. However NOW is the time to think on this, March is coming soon!
Tai Kai Day. It is chilly. I am pleased I got my Haori Jacket returned from the embroiders. I had a mon installed. My late Father in Law’s Haori has been missing since we arrived here. It was put someplace “safe” until we were settled, which is unremembered by my Mother-in-Law, and believed left at an old apt that is difficult to access from Family. Anyway, I purchased a one, it is perfect for those chilly times when not shooting, and still want to main the one’s Samurai coolness look.
Ok, yeah the Tai Kai. Fairly good turnout. Several dojos from the area. I did most of the photography as my part of the hosting dojo team. It was a long , but fun day. My shooting was nothing to write home about, or in this case, post about, but I have done worse. Perhaps I have hit my bottom point. I got 4 hits out of 12. My Sempai who has been doing Yon-dan Shinsha with me, says I beat him by two.
I was feeling like some progress was being made. I paid more attention to my scores over the next few practice sessions.
My shooting is not impressive, however looking at my records from the last few months. There is a small overall rise in my scoring. Before general average was about 33%. Now I am at about 40+%.
If I can get up to 55% by March. I will have a good shot at Yon-Dan.
Yon-Dan is the most hardest, I keep hearing…the changing point. People take you seriously as I Kyudo player when you reach Yondan.

On other Kyudo news, I had been using a straw hay bale in my Yard as a Kyudo Makiwara since I got setup here in This part of town. I was driven for those ranks, so I knew I had to practice even when not getting to the dojo. I had been struggling with the setup. mostly keeping the ya from going into the wall and through the hay bale. it mostly worked.
LZ was clearing out some stuff on Yahoo auction, I gathered something as well. I had some extra Kyudo items, plus an old Namisun I was using. I sold everything as a started kit and made enough to purchase a Makiwara, real pro-made one. Whooo hoo.










The Yumi string twangs

The Yumi string twangs…

It has been a while since I wrote about my kyudo trials and tribulations. It has been a slow and many times frustrating passage. I am still a long way from where I want to be, however, even I see progress. I am throughly enjoying the Tues kimono sessions. I do not get to shoot a lot, but I do get to learn a lot about Tai Hai, and other “sets” especially doing Rensha. Others also get to learn having to work with me doing Rensha, they also have to make certain adjustments and watch their timing when I am Omai. So it is a win/win training.
I am still not hitting but, I am making headway with my form, and the misc connections. I keep adding stuff I am given, and slowly slowly slowly it is coming together. I am no longer getting corrections on my draw and right hand tenouchi. Yamashita Sensei told me last night my left tenouchi is improving and gave me some more tips. I have notice my bow rotation is better when maintain a certain amount of pressure and push. Which in turn changes where my Ya hits. It is a slow learning process.
I went into the dojo yesterday night, a Sat. Thinking it would be slow. I was very surprised to find out the opposite. One sempai is testing for Rensei soon, so several Renshi where there going through the tai hai with him. I had planned on a quiet evening of solo practice. I was pretty much forced into drilling with the group. It was of course worth it, but not what I had planned, but I rolled with it. I suppose that would be embracing emptiness, in Chan Buddhist thought, embracing the change, adapting, being water.
One thing I am getting a regular check on now for correction from another Sensei is, after Zanshin, when returning to ready position, my Yumi travel is not correct. Too much angle, curve in travel and not a straight line. This takes real concentrated effort on my part to get it right. So many small things in Kyudo that add up to the perfection of a good shot. I have been reminded on several occasions, Yon-dan is difficult. Everyone chuckles as I keep putting off the next Shinsa. However, I do not want to rely on luck and spirit. I want skill, luck and spirit 🙂

Sept Update – the good, bad -N- ugly

Update – the good , bad and ugly

It is easy to lose track of posts and, time, what blogs, and the like. I know more people are interested in my Kyudo challenges, oh well. Life is not all about Kyudo, nor about posting for unknown, unheard folks. A lot has been going on recently not all pleasant, yin /yang, that is the way of life. Perhaps if I wrote more about funny stuff or tragic stuff I would have more readers. People like to hear about another’s troubles so theirs does not seem so bad, or like to hear funny stuff to forget their own issues. Right now, just babbling to get started, so you can ignore the above. Just out loud thinking.

I had a couple of good musical events. One was for the Snafkin cafe Sakura beach festival. I do not know why it is called Sakura, when this is summer. Anyway, it was fun. I almost did not make it. I said I would go then, I had to back out, then I could go again. My favorite people to play with backed me up. Alas no drums though. I asked one drummer that was there who played with a gospel group to sit in with me, he punked out. Wimp. So I had my favorite Sax player, keyboard player and a guitarist. No rehearsal we just went for it.
Considering all, it turned out ok. I was able to get some video footage.


The other was a Show in Kobe, with the blues band. This had been a year in the planning. It was the drummer’s high school reunion. There was talk of rehearsal but it never happened for various reasons, which i will not go into. One of which the “Doc” did not like the rehearsal studio, he just wanted to play at the Overheat club as a rehearsal. I could not make it, another story…bottom of page.
Also a week before this show, the brother of the Doc’s blues band drummer, his twin and also a drummer, asked me to fill in for his Bass player. He was short members. They are a Jazz group. His keyboard player was also going to be out. I said ok. There was also a another keyboard player going to sit in. A friend of theirs who was just in town visiting. A skilled player, who had not played in a while. Also from the same school.
I was also asked to learn another song, by Bob Dylan just in case. Then another song by the old band “Chicago”. So i have 5 songs to learn in a week. Really less because I had to go do a boat delivery from hell for 3-4 days. More on that later.
So yeah, I got the songs pretty fast, they were fairly simple. Show night was long. I got there around three in the afternoon, did rehearsals with both bands, had a short break then played. I left around 9:30. The blues band was first up for me to play with. It was decided by the Doc and the drummer I would carry the vocals. Hmm what is the point of calling it the Matsuo Blues Band if I am doing most of the work. I sort of snapped at him when he started to tell me how to do one song dropped on me suddenly, instead of one he was going to do. ” you want to do it that speed, fine, you sing then” My patience is low with that these days. We did ok considering, for the most part no practice. After two songs, the keyboard player joined us for another two songs. Now we sounded good. The best we have ever, to me. I even pulled the stops on my vocals, I felt inspired.
Right afterward the Jazz band was up. That was fun fun fun. The keyboard player who continued over from playing with the Blues Band and I hit it off and were in sync. Even when the group messed up and got lost where we were, we pulled it back together like what we did was on purpose and part of the arrangement. That is how it is done, you roll with it.
We followed the jazz tunes with a couple of other songs. You got a friend, and I am a Man. It was a nice variety and so nice to get out of just a blues bag. I kind of got the vibe the “doc” was not pleased me being with another group. Oh well.
No pictures, from the show, oh well. There is a 15 sec vid, taken by the “doc”…

LZ and I got to travel a little bit, we went to a very famous Osen place in Arima. This is part of her writing review jobs. It was just a overnight stay but relaxing. This is from the town near by. I am not big on public Osens, but hte massage chair was the Bomb!
 The Bad:
My mother passed away last week. I suppose not really a bad thing, she was old and tired and ready to check out. Not really sick per’se memory was mostly gone. She was in her own world when I saw her last. She said her legs hurt most of the time and was not eating. I was expecting it as were my family sooner. I was pleased I made the choice to go when I did to see her and say my goodbyes. What is bad is, some questionable finance handling of her estate. This is not the place to go into that. However it does seem that some property issues can be worked out without it all going to probate court. Within bad there is good, within bad there is good. Within Yin , there is Yang.
I have not been getting any Kyudo practice time in these days. Not full none, but very little. A mixed bag of reasons, which do not matter. The next Shinsa is in Nov, i am seriously considering waiting until spring. I can spend the winter more focused.
My spirit was shattered, that is the best way to describe my disappointment at someone who I had thought was my friend and I trusted and respected. I was almost killed, and not so much as even a sorry I mis-judged the weather or thank you for your work. That was the most painful!!
I had a boat delivery assignment, which I wrote about on my sailing blog, so I will not repeat here. If interested you can go there. Both LZ and I were disappointed at events, that took place. Me more so, I was very depressed for several days. Not just from a friendship level, but lost of respect for someone on a Zen master level. I am not fully over it, however slowly my Chan training is kicking in to accept, “it is what it is”, unattached and move on, in more ways than one. Be unattached in the present, mindful of what I am doing, stay centered, be open, for guidance from the Universe, where I need to be, go, do.

弓道 Kyudo world

Kyudo world –
The path less traveled.

Less traveled by the masses of Martial Art people, still, here at ZenWorld it is traveled often. I am still keeping up my practice, just not writing about it so much. Well, not much of that anyways, I do it in clumps, then I am back at life instead of writing about it. Also right now is just practice practice practice. So yeah, Kyudo, is still the big challenge on my plate. I have been working on “form” things, hitting wise I am not seeing any change. Yet, feeling, really really close…some days. Other days not so much. Yeah, nothing really has changed, perhaps just my attitude, the formless part of Kyudo. Kyudo world is like that. 
I have been attending regularly the Kimono class, on Tues. At first I was sort of nervous about the whole thing. Now I rather like it. It is good to be learning and training on something other than the frustrations of hitting, or not hitting in my case. In the Kimono class we work more on Tai Hai and Sharei. This is good for the finer points of my Tai Hai appearance in Shinsa. Because, yeah, it is not just about hitting. Even more so now I am doing Rissha. I was sort of concerned about being a hinderance to the class doing Rissha, I am finding though that the others like having to work with me doing it. It gives them a chance to learn and practice with another aspect to their training. The details and timing are a little tricky with Rissha, but not too bad. I thought it was mostly a matter of moving together, but no more complex, when to start certain moves, doing what depends being on what location, number of steps, the weekly practice is a good thing. 
It was a bit of a shock when I found everyone watching was expect to critique those who are shooting. I am just a baby here, How can an ant, see the view of a lion. I did my best on whatever smacked me in the face as wrong/off, and some serious flashback thoughts when I first understood what I was suppose to do. I was caught off guard when asked for my opinion. Ehhhh, Boku-wa !! Ehhhh.

My shooting issue is still dropping my left arm. I was told to imagine a line extending from the arrow to the front and back. That did help some, now I need to work that in with the list of thing to do n Kai. Of course this would go at the end of the sequence near the end of the expanding balloon of Nobei part.
I keep getting asked about my next Shinsa, most seemed surprised I am waiting until Autumn. I may even wait until the Winter Shinsa. We’ll see. As I tell the askees, “no need for me to rush”.
Do you know what they call a Doctor who passed at the bottom of his class?